Teacher Talk Tuesday

Hi! 

My aim for Teacher Talk Tuesday is to share some knowledge from my three decades of experience. This is for everyone, though! If you’re a teacher, I hope it helps, and if you’re not a teacher, you certainly had some! 

My first message: It’s OK to let students know when there is something difficult going on in your life that’s appropriate to share, or when you are exceptionally cranky or stressed. Obviously, these would be older kids, those that can handle seeing an important adult be honest about their feelings. 

This is mainly advice for those who usually feel good in the classroom. For me, outside stress disappears when I’m teaching: I’m too into what I’m doing. But sometimes I just have to admit that I’m bringing some burdens with me that nothing will diminish. And in these times, I know that it will be harder to deal with typical daily stresses. I know I might not be myself in front of them. Maybe I’ll be sharp with them when they’re used to me being kind. 

The real point is that it protects them from my bad day. It’s good for them to know my reactions may be different. They need to know that I’m under a lot of pressure. I’m not afraid to ask them to step up, to have their best day, because I’m struggling to have a good one. 

Like I said, once in a while. If you are always stressed, by no means should you follow this advice. Keep up your veneer of confidence and don’t overshare! 

Storytelling is a Foundation

I wrote the other day about the Thoreau quote that talks about putting the foundation under your dreams. Live Storytelling has been part of my foundation. I love it. One reason is I love performing and being the center of attention. But that’s not the real lesson.

What telling true stories in front of an audience has taught me is:

  • How to shorten my stories to give them more punch
  • How to craft stories for an audience
  • The value of the immediate feedback from an audience

Writing doesn’t give much feedback. So knowing people like my stories gave me a lot more confidence. I’ve always thought of my audience so that just supported what I already knew.

But writing with brevity is not something I did in the past. It has really helped me be a better storyteller, and, I hope, blog writer. I’m trying to keep my entries short so that people can relax, enjoy them, and hopefully get something out of them.

I thank you again for being my audience. I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I do not collect emails in the comment form, in case that matters.

Castles in the Air

One of my favorite Thoreau quotes is: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”   

My castle in the air has always been my writing ambitions. Although I’ve done a lot of writing, quite often I replaced working for success with dreaming of it. In my dreams I have been terrifically successful: best-sellers, TV interviews, movie adaptations. 

My reality has been much humbler: a handful of publication credits, 0 TV interviews or movie deals.  

That is until recently. Publishing Tao of Thoreau through Amazon finally attached a tower of my castle to some foundation stones. Still a humble accomplishment, but at least a tangible one. And last month, September 1, 2020 to today, October 1st, I sold 32 books. I don’t know who is buying them; I’m pretty sure all the friends and family bought theirs earlier in the year, so I can only assume that these are people hearing about my book and purchasing it. 

After hardly selling books for months, suddenly Tao of Thoreau took off.

This is after an August where I barely sold any. So maybe something is happening out there. Maybe my book is catching on. 

Strangers. Reading my work. A dream coming true. 

This website is another part of this supporting structure. Again, the numbers are not world-shattering, but I love seeing my statistics. Even one visitor eyeing my work is wonderful. And I’m having fun challenging myself to beat the previous weeks stats.  

My biggest takeaway is this: writing and publishing is making me feel joy. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now the joy of this process is spreading to all areas of my life. I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am in my writing journey, and I am so glad that you are reading this right now. Thank you! 

Hunting Hawk

I posted before about seeing wild animals frequently, and how special and spiritual the experience is. Yesterday, on my way home, I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk scoop up a squirrel and fly with it into the trees. Not only was this a spectacular natural experience, but it also inspired some personal thinking.

I’m not sure I always believe a natural experience is a sign, but it the better story. So what could this be a sign of? My book Tao of Thoreau has really been selling lately. Perhaps it is a sign that I am capturing an audience? Or maybe not, since that squirrel would represent my readers, and I don’t want them to be eaten. Maybe it means the book is “killing” them?

Certainly, it could be a bad sign. I suppose I could be the squirrel, in the clutches of a predator. But I don’t like that story, so I think I’ll stick with the first one.

This is not the hawk in question. Please do not blame it for killing a squirrel. Though I’m sure it’s beak isn’t clean.